Copenhagen is a charming and vibrant city with a rich history, beautiful architecture, and a thriving cultural scene. However, we only visited the capital city of Denmark as it was our base to travel to Faroe Islands, my dream destination for over a decade. I would rather have visited Copenhagen during Christmas as I can only imagine how it comes to life during the holidays. Having said that, since Faroe Islands is a summer destination, we decided to go there in July and it was still quite a nice city to explore, with the perfect weather and great vibe. While you can spend more time in Copenhagen than 48 hours, I felt it was just about enough time to explore the key highlights in my opinion. Here’s my suggested itinerary for Copenhagen in 48 hours.
Copenhagen in 48 hours
Start by exploring one of the main squares in Copenhagen, City Hall Square, just to immerse yourself in a new country and city’s vibe. This is the perfect introduction to Copenhagen, as an important gathering space for the locals to just walk around, or pay tribute to returning sports heroes, for big concerts, and for outdoor exhibitions and events including Copenhagen Pride. On a normal day, this is the perfect place to people-watch.
This is also where famous shopping street, Strøget, begins. Copenhagen’s most popular pedestrian street lined with shops, ranging from budget friendly chains to global luxury giants, Strøget’s vibe is unmatched, with street performers, cafes, and restaurants, as well as boutiques on both sides of the street.
From here, head to Christiansborg Palace, home to the Danish Parliament, Prime Minister’s Office, and Supreme Court. Situated on the little island of Slotsholmen (Castle Island), surrounded by canals in the heart of Denmark’s capital, it is today a working palace where the queen continues to use large parts for gala dinners, parties, and formal receptions. You could choose to explore inside Royal Reception Rooms or just observe the beautiful architecture from outside. The palace is as stunning and royal from inside as it is from outside so if you have the time and interest, it might be worth exploring the interiors too.
From here, as you head to Amalienborg Palace, the official residence of the Danish royal family, you will pass through the most iconic place in Copenhagen, which you’ve likely seen on Instagram, Nyhavn Harbour, a picturesque harbor area lined with colorful buildings. There are hoards of cafes and restaurants along the canal from where you can enjoy excellent views and watch the boats go by as you sip on a beer or coffee. Alternatively, you could also choose to take a boat trip in the canal!
Continue your walk to Amalienborg Palace to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony, which takes place at noon, right outside the palace. You can visit the courtyard for free, where you will be surrounded by four identical buildings. These are Christian VII’s Palace, Frederik VIII’s Palace, Christian IX’s Palace and Christian VIII’s Palace, where you’ll find Amalienborg Museum. There is a charge to visit the museum, which gives you access the private interiors of the most recent kings and queens along with an exhibit on the monarchy today with its many traditions.
A slightly longer walk from here will take you to the famous iconic Little Mermaid statue, a symbol of Copenhagen. It’s located at Langelinie promenade, where you can take a leisurely walk along the waterfront towards the statue. This area is quite tranquil and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, surrounded by parks and walking paths. Enjoy a little serene time here before heading back.
In the evening, head to a different and unique neighbourhood slightly far from the city center, Norrebro. With a slightly hippy vibe, Norrebro is known to be a melting pot of cultures and is quite vibrant with amazing restaurants, cafes, and bars, serving flavours from all over the globe. A fantastic place to enjoy your dinner and nightlife.
Suggested accommodation in Copenhagen: Wakeup Copenhagen
Start your morning by exploring Magstræde, one of the oldest streets in Copenhagen lined with colorful houses along a cobbled stone street, a truly picturesque place for the Instagram lovers. Some of the buildings here date as far back as the 18th century!
From here, head to Freetown Christiania. Now, this is a unique neighbourhood to be in and you will feel like you’ve been transported into another country altogether! And that’s not entirely false – Christiania is a self-governing, adaptable community with approximately 1000 members, all united by a shared set of principles that emphasize fairness, equality, freedom from taxes, and the establishment of independent laws, separate from the Danish government. Nestled within Copenhagen, this “country within a city” is a dynamic, intriguing, and at times, controversial enclave. Embracing a countercultural, hippy-style movement, it has asserted its right to the land and has been officially recognized as a free community.
You will be greeted by several signs vouching for the independence to indulge in marijuana and even some stalls selling it. But don’t get taken in- it is not legal and while we were there, we saw the cops bust some of the sellers with our own eyes. It’s not illegal to visit Freetown Christiania but be careful what activities you indulge in while you’re there! The streets and buildings are colourful, the cafes are amazing, and the vibe is very different. But they’re not too happy with people taking too many photos, so be careful who and what you’re clicking when you’re there.
If you’re into amusement parks, Copenhagen as one of the most popular ones, as it holds the distinction of being one of the oldest amusement parks in the world, dating back to 1843. Tivoli Gardens features a wide array of amusement rides suitable for all ages. From thrilling roller coasters to classic carousels, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The park is adorned with beautifully landscaped gardens, fountains, and flowerbeds. At the center of the park lies Tivoli Lake, where you can rent rowboats and enjoy a leisurely row on the water if you’re not adventurous enough for the rides. Tivoli Gardens also hosts a variety of live entertainment, including concerts, theatrical performances, ballets, and open-air shows. You can easily spend about 3-4 hours here.
End your evening at Vesterbro, a neighbourhood that was once notorious for drug dealers and prostitutes but today has turned into a cool locale with dive bars and tattoo parlours, offbeat boutiques and charming courtyard restaurants, and abandoned warehouse spaces which have been converted into huge studio and startup complexes. The vibe is laidback and relaxed, making it the perfect place to end your trip of Copenhagen in 48 hours.